Police officer. Business owner. Public servant. Family man.
Tom O’Halleran has never backed down from a challenge and he’s never lost sight of the values with which he was raised. Living in Arizona’s First Congressional District for over two decades, Tom has committed himself to improving the lives of others.
Tom is the oldest of Virginia and Frank O’Halleran’s three children. Frank was raised on a dairy farm and started working fulltime on the farm when he was only nine. During the Great Depression, the family lost its farm, and Tom’s father found work in a steel foundry before becoming a janitor. Tom’s mother was raised in a large working class family in Chicago and worked as a secretary at times. Tom’s parents urged him to study hard and serve the community through the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Tom has never forgotten the sacrifices his parents made to provide for him and his siblings. It’s their work ethic and compassion that has made Tom a committed public servant, fighter for middle class Arizonans, and advocate for strong and sustainable rural areas.
Growing up, Tom was eager to serve and protect his community as a police officer. His neighborhood was tough – and he knew in his heart that he could help make it a safer place to raise a family. In 1966, at 20 years old, he joined the Chicago Police Department, where he was an officer and then a sergeant in a special operations unit. Tom was commissioned to be one of the youngest homicide investigators in the city’s history. He served with distinction—receiving three Department Commendations and over 30 other awards.
In 1979 Tom became a member of the Chicago Board of Trade, where he opened up his own business and served two terms on the exchange’s board of directors. He chaired or was vice chair of the exchange’s finance, floor operations, and planning committees. In 1994, Tom became a consultant on design and integration of technology for financial trading floors. His work included planning for future needs of clients and collaboration between various exchanges to integrate new trading practices.
Upon retirement, Tom and his wife Pat moved to Arizona. Never one for sitting still, Tom became involved in local issues, first as an advocate for Yavapai County, and cities and towns of the Verde Valley, to the state legislature, focusing on natural resource issues. He then took up the call for new leadership in the state legislature and was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives with broad support. He served three consecutive terms as a state Representative followed by a term as a state Senator. While serving in the legislature, Tom received over 40 awards for his distinguished service.
While in the Arizona House of Representatives, Tom served as Vice-Chair and then Chair of the Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee (and its predecessor, the Natural Resources, Agriculture, Water and Native American Affairs Committee). He also was a member of the following committees: Education K-12, Ways and Means, Transportation, Counties and Municipalities, and Environment. While in the Arizona Senate, Tom served as Chair of the Higher Education Committee and Vice-Chair of the Health Committee.
For Tom, it’s always been about improving the lives of children and creating a better life for future generations. He directly served many children as a police officer, protecting them from violence and solving crimes against children. After Tom retired from the force, he remained a leader on children’s issues by serving on the Board of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in Chicago and coaching baseball, basketball, and football for local youth. Tom is a past member of the Board for Prevent Child Abuse, Arizona, and was a founding member of Arizona’s Children’s Caucus at the legislature.
During his eight years in the legislature, Tom built a reputation for taking on tough challenges and making hard decisions despite the political consequences. For example, Tom led the charge to reform a dysfunctional Child Protective Services. Party leaders threatened him with retribution. Tom did not flinch. He successfully reformed the program, even though his committee chairmanship was taken as punishment. Motivated by his success in reforming Child Protective Services, Tom led a bipartisan coalition to include all-day kindergarten and increased funding for education and university research in the budget. Yet again, Tom demonstrated in the Arizona legislature the type of courage that is in short supply in Washington.
After serving his constituents in the state legislature, Tom maintained his commitment to protecting Arizona’s natural beauty as the President of Keep Sedona Beautiful and as a Chairperson on the Verde River Basin Partnership.
Tom and Pat reside in unincorporated Yavapai County. He and Pat have been married for over 46 years. They have three adult children and three grandchildren.
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